Seattle Mariners

What's Robinson Cano's plan before he returns to Mariners next month?

FILE - In this May 12, 2018, file photo, Seattle Mariners' Robinson Cano looks skyward as he crosses home plate after hitting a three-run home run during the fifth inning of the second baseball game of a doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers in Detroit. Cano has been suspended 80 games for violating baseball's joint drug agreement, the league announced Tuesday, May 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)
FILE - In this May 12, 2018, file photo, Seattle Mariners' Robinson Cano looks skyward as he crosses home plate after hitting a three-run home run during the fifth inning of the second baseball game of a doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers in Detroit. Cano has been suspended 80 games for violating baseball's joint drug agreement, the league announced Tuesday, May 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)

In less than a month, Robinson Cano will be back to playing in the Seattle Mariners' organization.

Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said Tuesday that Cano will be able to begin a minor league rehab assignment on Aug. 1, with a tentative return date to the big-league club set for Aug. 14 following his 80-game suspension for violating major league baseball’s joint drug agreement and testing positive for a diuretic, Furosemide.

Cano began his suspension on May 15.

Dipoto said Cano will go to the Dominican Republic before the All-Star break on July 16 to get more field work in at his complex he owns there, the RC22 Dream School.

Cano has been able to, and has, worked out at Safeco Field but he can’t be present when the gates open or work out with other players on the field because of his suspension. Going to the Dominican will give him more opportunities to work out.

Dipoto also said Cano's fractured finger, which he had surgery on after his suspension, has fully healed and he's been cleared for full baseball activity.

“All things considered, he’s here in the morning and does his work in the weight room and works very hard,” Dipoto said. “I know he’s focused on contributing when he comes back.”

Cano fractured his finger when he was hit by a pitch two days before MLB announced Cano’s suspension. Per rules of the suspension, Cano is not eligible to play in the postseason should Seattle make it.

That means the Mariners have decisions to make on how they handle their lineup with Dee Gordon, a former Gold Glove second baseman with the Marlins, moving from center field back to his former position in Cano’s stead.Gordon would be their starting second baseman in the playoffs, but Cano hasn’t played anywhere other than second base and designated hitter in his 14-year career, other than one game at shortstop with the Yankees in 2013.

Dipoto was asked if Cano would be open to contributing somewhere other than second base.

“I’ll talk to you about that later,” he said with a smile.

He did tell ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick last month that Cano will not be their full-time second baseman when he returns, though there’s not much playing time to be had at DH, either, because of Nelson Cruz.

“A lot of it is going to be dictated by where we are in the standings,” he told ESPN.com. “As versatile and athletic as Dee is, it’s not that easy to go play center field for a month-and-a-half and then say, ‘Oh, by the way, you’re going to go play second base in the biggest game of your career when you just hasn’t been out there.’ It’s going to take some juggling and we’ll have to figure out a way.

“That could allow for a time-share, so to speak, where we keep everybody sharp. But we do know Dee is going to play second base as we comedown the stretch. Because if we want to be in the postseason – which we do –then we know who our second baseman is going to be. And it’s going to be Dee Gordon.”

TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677; Twitter: @TJCotterill
  Comments